My Child Has... Article

My Child Has...

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Flu (Influenza): Brief Version


The flu (influenza) is caused by a virus. The virus infects the nose, throat, and air passages to the lungs. Your child will probably have a runny nose, sore throat, and cough. Your child may have more muscle pain, headache, fever, and chills than if he had a cold. Flu gets spread when people sneeze, cough, or touch something that a sick person touched. If your child is between 6 months and 18 years old, he should get a flu shot.

How can I take care of my child?

  • Fever or aches.

    Use acetaminophen (Tylenol) every 6 hours or ibuprofen (Advil) every 8 hours for discomfort or fever over 102°F (39°C).

    Do not give your child aspirin.

  • Cough or hoarseness.

    Give cough drops to your child if he is older than 6 years old. If your child is over 1 year old, you can give him honey (1/2 to 1 teaspoon as needed). Never give honey to babies. If you do not have honey, use corn syrup.

  • Sore throat.

    Give hard candy to children over 6 years old. Warm chicken broth may also help children over 1 year old.

  • Stuffy nose.

    Put warm-water or saline nosedrops into your child's nose. Then have the child blow his nose or you can use a suction bulb. This will open most blocked noses.

  • Fluids

    Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids.

Call your child's doctor right away if:

  • Your child has trouble breathing.
  • Your child starts to act very sick.

Call your child's doctor during office hours if:

  • Your child has other problems such as an earache, sinus pain or pressure, or a fever lasting over 3 days.
  • You have other questions or concerns.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2010-06-04
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02

This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.

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